Camino de Santiago: Ponferrada

September 25, 2016:  Short and sweet today with a bus ride from Astorga to Ponferrada, Spain which is the last major town on the French route of the Camino de Santiago until Santiago de Compostela.

Taking a step back in time, we tour the magnificent 12th century Templar castle.  Originally a hill-fort and later a Roman citadel we peer through the windows and peepholes viewing the city below and the mountains in the distance.

camino-1030427At the beginning of the 12th century, the Templar knights took possession of the fortress.
camino-1030439They reinforced and extended the building for use as a palace as well as provide protection of pilgrims en route to Santiago de Compostela. Its twelve original towers reproduced the shapes of the constellations.camino-1030438The castle hosted the Knights Templar’s Grand Master of Castille. Unfortunately, the Templars were only able to enjoy the use of their fortress for about twenty years before the order was disbanded and its properties confiscated. ~spain.info 

According to andaspain.com, The Knights Templar were disbanded in 1307 by King Philip IV of France due to growing mistrust of the organization, as well as the Kings large financial debt to the group. It is thought that most members were arrested and tortured into giving false confessions, resulting in being burned at the stake. Mystery and speculation grew due to the swift disappearance of this immense and mighty group. Even now, many hold on to the belief that the Templars did not dissolve but went underground and continue to exist today. Interestingly, King Fernando IV gifted the castle to his butler once the Order of the Templars was dissolved.  Hmmm… strange, indeed.

Top three photo picks of the day:

camino-1030419 camino-1030434 camino-1030418

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